Canada’s Drag Race queen Stephanie Prince on repping Jollibee and the cutthroat Calgary scene

The first Drag Race performer from the Prairies is ready for her spokes-queen moment


The Prairies aren’t typically known for shade, but that changed when Calgary’s Stephanie Prince sashayed into the Werk Room on season 2 of Canada’s Drag Race.

The Philippines-born performer is the first contestant from a province other than Ontario, Quebec or British Columbia to compete on the reality franchise, and over three episodes she made an impression in her confessionals as a queen who will tell you what’s what.

Her entrance look paid homage to Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee, one of the show’s most memorable looks to date – though an endorsement deal has not been forthcoming. Brimming with confidence on camera, she ranked high in the season premiere’s design challenge with a fiery and feather-y bodice constructed from paper. Clearly, she was an early one-to-watch.

Alas, two episodes later Prince would end up on the wrong side of a lip-sync-for-her-life against Vancouver’s Synthia Kiss (to Fefe Dobson’s Ghost) after failing to impress the judges with her minor turn in the meta horror-movie acting challenge Screech. Her fatal mistake? A one-note entrée into overacting that the judges felt failed to deliver in the nuance department.

In her typically blunt fashion, she does not agree with the assessment. “The challenge was overact and that’s what I did,” she tells NOW the morning after her elimination, shit-eating grin in full effect.

On the bright side, while other Filipino queens on Drag Race have tended to go home on episode two, she broke this so-called “Filipino curse,” albeit by a “thread.” Guest judge Dobson even broke down when she was eliminated, one of many teary-eyed moments on the show – and we’re only three episodes in.

We caught up with Prince to talk about crying on the air, the competitive Calgary drag scene and her Jollibee spokes-queen prospects.

How did you become a drag performer?

Growing up in the Philippines I grew up with a lot of ladyboys. I used to dislike them because, you know, internalized homophobia, but they always told me you’re going to be one of us. And now here we are – I am them. For people who don’t know what ladyboys are, the word” ladyboy” is actually a slur for flamboyant gays and transgender people, but it was claimed back.

When was Stephanie Prince born?

The date was April 16, 2016. I remember because that’s the same day I adopted my dog. The week before that I went to the only gay club we have here in the city and asked a couple queens, “How do I perform in this bar?” and they just told me come every Saturday, it’s an open space, you can perform and the next weekend I did.

Walking in that room, I actually didn’t know my drag name. I was so busy with my face and my outfit I didn’t think about a drag name. When one of the performers, hosts, asked me “WHAT’S YOUR NAME?!” And I was like, “Stephanie – let’s go with that?” “AND WHAT’S YOUR LAST NAME?” I’m like “Prince, let’s go with that too.” I’m such a comic book nerd and one of my favourite superheroes is Wonder Woman and her alter ego is Diana Prince.

What’s the drag scene like in Calgary?

There’s only one gay club that does performances and it’s called Twisted Element. Everyone is competing for a spot to perform there. Everybody here is so competitive. Everyone is willing to snatch each other’s wigs and outfits so they can have that paid spot. Right now the scene is growing. One of the gay bars that never did performances is now doing it too. They’re doing a show with my drag mom Misty Meadows.

On Canada’s Drag Race you came across as quick to tell someone what’s what. Was that confidence something you had growing up or did it develop as you did drag?

I think it did kind of develop. I was a fat kid growing up and I was so shy. I was always being bullied. Growing up in the Philippines, my life experiences made me develop a very thick skin so I’m not easily offended. I would never say something that’s very offending unless I was asked. I’m just saying. [laughs] Everything I’m saying is fun and wits.

How big a deal is it being from Calgary and going on Canada’s Drag Race?

It’s such a big deal. I’m not just the first Calgary queen or first Albertan – I’m the first Prairie queen. The world is going to see there are a lot of talents in the Prairies and we need to get these queens on Drag Race. I feel like I opened up this door to way more talented and way more deserving than me on Drag Race.

Tell me about putting together your Jollibee entrance look?

I did that look myself. It was a busy time, and I had a couple designers working for me. So I thought I might as well sew this one look for me. I made that look in two nights.

Stephanie Prince dressed as latex Dorothy on the Canada's Drag Race runway
Courtesy of Crave

Have you had any reaction from the brand?

They did message me and reshare my photo on their story but I haven’t had the sponsorship or the spokesperson message yet. I was hoping – I’m still hoping! Maybe you can message them for me? [laughs] They just opened the third Jollibee franchise in Calgary now so we have three. Every where I go is Jollibee.

This week’s challenge was a horror movie challenge. Watching the show back how do you feel about how it all played out and the critiques you had from the judges?

I still think I did great in the challenge. I will always defend myself. The challenge was steal people’s scenes that’s what I did. I had a viewing party in my home bar at Twisted. It was such a shocker for the audience. They were watching it and laughing every time I was saying my lines or something. They were like, how is Stephanie in the bottom? Also I looked great in the runway, don’t get me wrong.

There’s been a lot of crying on this season so far and a lot of heightened emotions. What was it like being there?

It’s so weird. Before going in there you feel like you dealt with all your problems but there’s something about the Werk Room and the confessionals that makes you want to share. Also, you’re very isolated from everybody. Every time we see each other and are allowed to talk, we’re talking and talking and talking. You just share you life story and you remember how much you struggled. How much you succeeded. There’s something about the Werk Room and the confessionals makes you want to cry. It’s very therapeutic. I recommend going in there.

What’s next for you?

Hopefully I get to take my house on tour. The House of Prince. I firmly believe I have the best drag daughters and they are way more talented than me so I really wanna showcase them and I really want to show them off. Like, I gave birth to these bitches! I started the drag house because that was my goal when I started doing drag. It wasn’t gonna be a rushed thing and then there was this – I’m not gonna say her name – this white, skinny drag queen that popped out of nowhere started a house. I’m like, who are you? There’s no way you’re just starting a house right now when nobody knows who you are. It just felt like I need to do this and step it up.

How much preparation did you put into going on the show?

I’m not gonna tell the exact amount of the whole thing but it was a lot of money. I reached out to designers and I couldn’t tell them what it was for. I was like, can you please just rush this. Make this and rush this. I will pay extra. I will pay for the shipping. It costs a lot of money to go on Drag Race and look that cheap.

Watch a video interview with Stephanie Prince below:

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Read more Canada’s Drag Race stories and interviews here

@KevinRitchie

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